Chris Sorensen has been a member of the Bundaberg Vintage Vehicle Car Club since 1987 but his passion for old cars came long before that.
His passion for vintage vehicles has been highlighted as part of Bundaberg Regional Council's Our People Our Stories initiative, which celebrates local community members.
He said he had loved vintage vehicles since he was a child but during his days working at Qunaba Mill, Chris was able to explore this further through his interest in a vehicle that once belonged to the manager of Bundaberg Foundry, William Parry.
The vehicle was a De Dion-Bouton.
“The manager of Bundaberg Foundry in 1904, Mr William Parry, sent his foreman to London to purchase the car and it was shipped to Bundaberg,” Chris said.
“An ambition of mine was to own this car and I was fortunate enough to purchase it in 1986.
“The other part of my ambition was to take it back to London to do the London to Brighton Run, and I did that with my family in 1989.
“Since then, we have done several London to Brighton runs with other cars that we have.”
The popular car rally celebrates the Lifting of the Red Flag Act in 1904.
The event has been celebrated since the late 1800s.
“One of the highlights of this event is the participants dress in the period dress of the car,” Chris said.
“For our first trip my wife Jenny had made period 1904 outfits for all of us, including our sons.
“We have a photo of all of us dressed up with the De Dion-Bouton lined up with the other old cars in Hyde Park.
“It was a big effort and memorable in that the De Dion-Bouton went back to where it started from all those years ago.”
Chris said the De Dion-Bouton was one of a few cars he owned steeped in history.
“It was the first car registered in Bundaberg and after many years, was sold to Bert Hinkler’s sister, Mrs Queenie Palm,” he said.
“I also purchased a 1903 Grout steam car in Pennsylvania.
“The Grout, like the De Dion, is a very original car with a lot of history and there is one photo of it parked in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.”
Chris said he also owned a 1903 Cadillac, a 1901 Locomobile, a 1906 Buick, 1911 Overland, 1915 Saxon, 1926 Lincoln (once owned by the famous American tennis player Elinor Sears) and a 1929 Rolls Royce Sedanca deVille.
These days, Chris gets to enjoy his cars even more in retirement and recently participated in the re-enactment of the London to Brighton in Burnett Heads with the Bundaberg Vintage Vehicle Club.
He said it was an opportunity to give Australian vintage car owners who couldn’t attend the event in the United Kingdom a place to celebrate locally.
“I am often asked what the attraction is of going all the way to London and taking a car to do this run,” he said.
“My answer is: it’s the thrill of driving such an old car through London.
“Past the Palace down the mall, past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
“Over Westminster Bridge and then all the way to Brighton – it’s an incredible experience.”
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